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Happy Salmonella Day! 

Eighteen years ago today, Bad Ass Husband and I were planning on getting married, but we couldn’t, because we were both deadly ill with food poisoning from eating ice cream at the gas station in Westcliff, CO. Zanimal made the commemorative cake, this year. I think she did a nice job. It looks like puke. And ice cream. At the same time! 

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*The First Year

*I wrote this for the “Reader’s Write” section of my favorite magazine, The Sun. The topic was, “The First Year.”



Picture Unrelated

My first year of teaching, I taught sixth grade: three two-hour blocks and then a twenty minute “homeroom” class at the end of the day. The homeroom was supposed to be your core students, the ones you “really connected with.”

For activities, the homeroom class was intended to be twenty minutes of silent reading most days, but then once a week, we would play baseball with other homeroom classes. There were also all-school activities in the mornings that were led by a different homeroom class each month.


As a first year teacher, I had the absolute worst kids in the school in my homeroom. I never could get them to read. They didn’t ever have books. When we played baseball with the other classes, they moved the bases so that that the other team couldn’t find them. When we led the Pledge of Allegiance in front of the whole school, they pretended not to know it. At all. I ended up saying the Pledge of Allegiance alone in front of the school, my face burning with shame and anger at these good-for-nothing kids standing next to me, nudging each other and giggling.


I tried everything. I tried rewards. I tried punishments. I tried bribes. Letters home. I set a timer and said the whole class would stay after school for as long as they were wasting my time. They thought that was really funny. They let the timer run the entire class, and then they all stayed after school with me for twenty minutes. After a few months of their shenanigans, I mentally checked out. I would just sit amidst the chaos of “silent reading” and fantasize about running away- right then. Just leaving. But I never did.


One day, I kept a boy from the group after school for detention. I knew detention was supposed to be silent, but when I was alone with a student, I often ended up talking with them.


“You’re too soft on those kids,” he said. (As though he weren’t one of them.)


“I don’t think so,” I said. “When the water in a stream runs against a rock, you think the rock is stronger, but the water wears it down, in the end.”


“Yeah,” he said, “But I think you’re the rock, and they are the water. You’re being worn down, and they’re doing whatever they want.”


I was so mad at him! Because he was so right.


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Slow Down for Ice and Curves in the Road

I was going to blog about how someone just ran over our sign in front of our house, but my daughter already did it beautifully here. I’ll just post the before and after photos. The before:

Drawing by Z. The chicken on top is a sculpture. We couldn’t find an actual photo of the sign before, but she did a good job drawing it.

The after:

*Smushed. Photo by Big Z. (The sign post used to be back by the tree.)

Just last week, someone came within four feet of hitting our actual house. It was our neighbor. And then the morning after that, someone was in the ditch. It was our other neighbor. (We share our road with two houses.) The guy who hit the sign? I don’t know who he is. He went to the hospital, but now he is out, according to the police.

So, some words of wisdom:

  1. Don’t drive by our house. We live on a loop. Our road goes nowhere. There is no earthly reason to drive by our house.
  3. Drive sober.
  4. No looking at your phone while driving.

And, remember: being late isn’t that bad. You can always blame me. Make up something I did to make you late. I’ll back you up! Nothing is more important than staying alive and not killing anyone else.


*That little wall was Z’s bus stop, where she sits and waits for the school bus. Luckily, school was out, and she wasn’t sitting there at the time of the wreck. She would be dead.


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Autumn Mornings

morning has broken

I was inspired by another blog post to write about mornings in autumn.

It’s dark when we wake up, this time of year. Sometimes, I go out before the chickens are up. I come into the chicken coop, and they are all still sitting on their perches. They see me and look down for a good spot to jump down to and start their daily routine of poking around outside all morning, then taking a nap under the tall weeds around noon.


The rooster, belligerent that I have announced the morning before he did, hastily crows a “Cock-a-doodle-do,” looking askance at me like, “I was going to do it! Why are you rushing me?”


Sometimes, after the bus takes Big Z away, BAH and I go for a walk up the road. The sun is just rising over the hills. The leaves are all changing. A mist floats around us, as though Dracula himself will materialize. He might just become visible, only for a moment, a shimmering form in the haze of morning. And then, he will disappear as quickly as he came. We will be left to wonder if he was ever there at all.

morning has broken

Just like these October mornings will disappear, soon enough. But for now, they remain, shimmering in the haze.


(The last photo was taken by Brian Marohn.)